Chris Garcia and the Quest For Hidden Gold
year, I attend the APE or WonderCon looking for the best of
the stuff that shimmers beneath the surface. This year's Alternative
Press Expo, or APE, was a fantastic place to find the type
of stuff that I crave. And I consumed a lot of it. More than
30 'zines and small comics, dozens of postcards, a bunch of
stickers and buttons, and a lot of fun. Here now are a few
superlatives from this fine Saturday afternoon.
Sturm und Drang Attempt to Explain the Wat Tyler
Rebellion of 1381
One of the first things I bought at the APE, and one of the
first creators I spent a lot of time talking to, Ester Gumm's
attempt to explain exactly what happened during one of the
most violent uprisings of the Middle Ages is beautifully drawn
by Karl Christian, and well-researched. This 28 page comic
did more to make me understand the events that gave young
Richard II such a bad rap. This is easily one of my favorite
Hot Surfer Girl Comic:
Bikini Automatic #1
Wow. A HOT HOT HOT bikini babe, ironically named Bikini Automatic,
has been hired to watch over a beach where strange happenings
are afoot during the Surf Competition. It's a fun little story,
but the highlight is the beautiful art of Ken Wright. Bikini
is a beautiful (and scantily clad) beach bunny who seems to
ring a bit of Natasha from Rocky & Bullwinkle. The art
is cartoon crisp and wonderful. Check out www.kenwrightonline.com
for more details and to order this fantastic comic.
The Arcana Jayne Pot Luck Cookbook
MpMann & Arcana Jayne creator Lisa Jonte made a
great little comic, and then went about adding a couple of
great recipes to it. I was hooked by the opening page (Arcana
shooting craps with a bunch of cute little faeries) and held
the whole way through. Recipes include Lemon Cookies, katsudon
(my personal fave at Japanese restaurants) and Autumn Stuffing.You
can read Arcana Jayne and a bunch of other great features
Comic Strip Collection:
Neurotica: Pretty Smiles by Big Al, The Gal
Last year at WonderCon,
I bought a copy of Moo, a little strip book done by
the lovely Big Al, the Gal and Sandy Clark. That dissolved
and Big Al went on to Neurotica, a fantastic strip that you
can read in The San Francisco Observer, The Tideland News,
or on www.uclick.com.
It's a great little strip, complete with Petunia, who is a
little bit of Cathy only highly entertaining and not annoying,
and her crazy grandfather who is 99. I love their discovery
of the power of an ant colony and their trip to LA for St.
Valentine's Day. A great strip from a great creator.
Comics I Reviewed From WonderCon Last Year Making Good
Not one, but two of the comics that I reviewed in my post-WonderCon
wrap-up, Lex Talionis: A Jungle Tale by Aneurin Wright
and Pirate Club by Derek Hunter and Bryan Young, both
got big releases from Image and Slave Labor Graphics, respectively.
Lex Talionis was a huge winner with the new version,
as the full color is magnificent and is something that everyone
should go out and get, as it means a serious return to the
old-school adventure comic may be on the way.
Trip Down Memory Lane for Christopher J. Garcia:
I ran into a guy I knew from Emerson by the name of benjones.
He's a genius and always has been. The type of guy who could
do anything and make it good. Oh how I loathe him and his
talent! Anyhoo, I ran into him and we reminisced about old
Emerson, and he showed me After The Beep: volumes 1
he forced people to improvise poetry every time they called
to leave a message on his answering machine. Benjones turned
these little masterpieces in a pair of great journals. There
were messages from my old roommate and a guy I used to talk
to on the bus from my dorm to our classes.
of comic shorts that he gave me, called Shorts, was
also brilliant. You can find more of his stuff at www.thebenjones.com.
was Emersonian Darcey Leonard. I think I met her once or twice
back at school, but you always stick by those who went through
the same hell.
SuperPower of Attorney.
If the preview issue is any indication, SuperPower of Attorney
will be a great comic. It's funny, it's fresh and it's everything
I love about lawyer shows, only in comic form. Featuring a
character with marked similarities to a certain undersea member
of the Superfriends, this little preview had me laughing my
head off. Look for SuperPower of Attorney this Summer
and visit www.billroundy.com
for more details.
Romance (and Best Sports Training Montage in a Comic):
Air by Thien! Pham
Set against the backdrop of the World Air Hockey Championships,
Air is a love story that doesn't turn off its male
readers. How does it manage? Well, mostly by being The
Karate Kid. Indy Steel, great name by the way, is a
dot-com kid whose dad was a legendary air hockey champion
until Marv Wheeler broke his wrist using an illegal puck.
Indy's fiancé is a cold woman who refuses to accept
that Indy should be playing air hockey. Laura Lau is the girl
he sees playing one day and decides to start training her
for the championships. Eventually, Indy decides to sign up
too, and there, in glorious black and white, is a training
montage set to Survivor's Eye of the Tiger. A great comic
from the folks at e-z cheese comics, and you can find more
info at www.e-zcheese.com.
I've said it before, I'll say it again; I miss comic anthologies.
SlamBang, published by Fan-atic Press, is a sensational
piece of work. The opening story, Unscary Monsters by Anton
Bogary, is awesome, with beautiful art and a hilarious tale
of Frankenstein's Monster coming to grips with his lifestyle.
Darby O'Spudnots and Slacker A.C. are both amusing little
heresies, and the one-pager Last Kiss by John Lustig had me
laughing. Great stuff from these good people.
Traditional Comic Book:
The Motherless One by Gene Luen Yang
The Monkey King is the classic folk hero of ancient China.
I remember hearing old Monkey King stories when I was a kid
hanging out with my Chinese friends down the block. This is
the tale of The Monkey King discovering that he was born from
a rock and his trip to see the rock that resides on the top
of Flower-Fruit Mountain. Unfortunately, that's also where
the Tiger Spirit lives, and the two of them let it all out
in an Ancient Chinese brawl. It's such a great comic. The
pace is brilliant and the art is wonderfully stylized. I was
drawn into it by the character of the Monkey King, who is
at once cocky and confused by his place in the world. You
can find out more info on Gene Yang at www.humblecomics.com.
Folly by Curtis Broadway
Last year's WonderCon found me falling in love with a little,
spiral-bound book called Dr. Ready by Curtis Broadway.
It was a nice little series of images done in a pen and ink
style that amazed me. This year, Curtis was at the APE and
pushing a work that I believe is the finest combination of
poetry and imagery since the illuminated works of William
Blake. These are poems written by Broadway to his girlfriend
at the time, and they must have been effective as she is now
his wife. The art is gorgeous, with hints of 1960s pop art
and Russian constructionist works. Perhaps the most remarkable
thing is the fact that Broadway printed the entire thing by
himself on a hundred and nine year old printing press. Since
the press did not allow you to add ink as you go, there is
a beautiful variance in the amount of ink on some of the drawings,
which adds a lot of texture to the pieces. This is an all-around
beautiful book of poetry and art.